Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fairness and Family

It's amazing to me how much being in the mountains makes me miss my people in bayou country. There are so many similarities in lifestyle and attitudes of the people of these isolated environments. Family ties are strong and deep, as are the values that families pass from one generation to the other.

Many of the people on the bayou still speak in a Cajun French patois; and many Appalachian mountain residents still say many words that are like a foreign language to those used to mainstream media's ways of pronunciation. If one can communicate competently with both a bayou boy and an Appalachian auntie, one may almost be considered bi-lingual.

These are people of the earth, those who learned from their ancestors and the Native Americans how to make the most of what their God gives them. These are people who like laughter, knowing that it's the best medicine for clearing out emotional cobwebs and beginning again when life gives them lemons.

These are also people who share their blessings with each other, knowing that a time may come that they will need the help of a neighbor in feeding their families or building their barns. Their memories are multi-generational; a goodness given by another is not soon forgotten, but neither are the wrongs.

Newcomers, who don't yet have the trust of the locals for checking out the reputations of others before engaging their services, are often preyed upon by some less-than-scrupulous scalawags. Grudges can go on for many generations, so a reputation for fairness is a powerful protection in hard times.

Churches and civic groups are still more important for sharing friendships than are any social media sites. The locals' measure of a man or woman is the extent to which they give back to their neighbors. And a willingness to work is still more respected than a doctoral degree.

I wonder, though, what will happen to these values now that so many are sending their children away to make their livings in the national and international marketplaces. The draw of an easy living promoted by our corporate consciousness is powerful, but what will happen when we no longer have any who know how to live happily off the land? Will greed become our new god?

1 comment: